Written By: Miss Ashley D
I am a twenty five year old woman residing in my parents’ basement in a bellying out suburb in Upstate New York. I possess a General Equivalency Diploma which has defined me as a peer to any and all who managed to waltz across the stage at their high school graduations and get their cherries popped at promenades and commencement receptions state wide; nearly nationwide. I have no college degree. The only time I have spent in a class room since winter 2003 has been for multiple viewings of maddeningly tragic driver’s education videos. Still, I have yet to learn to ease up on the gas, I got me a right foot made o’ lead indeed; I flew clean from Denver to just outside Chicago in twelve hours, not but eight months ago.
If I had to asses my ability to live life, I would wage that I am sufficient at best. I’m guilty of often insisting that I am terrible at it, that I’m just no good. But I realize lately that is because I have a habit of secretly trying to adhere to some kind of standardized guideline and due to that I always appear to fall short of the mark.
Upon leaving high school I made a profound decision to do something else, to be something better, and to live a little bit harder. I wanted to find myself. For many Caucasian teens of privilege this rite of passage involves college dormitories and pungent European train rides; it involves sex with multiple partners, for women it typically includes a brief foray in to homosexuality which in most cases is typically overcome by a young woman’s comical yet biological need for hard, throbbing, dick; it involves creating an identity. Many of my peers have spent the past several years participating actively in the world. They wield their degrees as great swords of valor; shields of strength, using them to defend their place in a society that frankly could give a fuck less about them and their education. They drag themselves out of bed on chilly fall mornings, fueled by expensive coffee and cheap cigarettes. They settle in to their cubicles and offices with no views. They wage a private war against the clock every day, anxious to get home to their Berber carpets, pets, and partners in crime. They return to their cozy beds only to wake up and repeat the same story day after day.
The past eight years of my life have been lush with eviction notices, abusive relationships with men, defaulted loans, and what I so lovingly continue to refer to as ‘starting over’. “Yeah man, I just want to use the next six months to start over. You know, pay some bills, get back on my feet. And then I figure I’ll just go to school and become a real person.” Ha! Jokes on you friends, one is incapable of starting over if they have never started in the first place. I have been treading still waters for nearly a decade, just barely able to keep my head above water. In my futile attempt to make a difference, to live outside the mold, I have ended up just where my society wanted me to be.
I spent three years eating antidepressants hand over fist; a slave to a false sense of security; a totally imaginary sense of self. I spent years upon years indulging a disgustingly gluttonous fantasy; a fantasy chalk full of Perry’s ice cream and Tony’s microwave pizzas. I am stuck in a position where I need federal aid if I ever decide I would like to be something more. I am eligible for welfare, food stamps, free heat, and Section Eight housing. I could go out tomorrow and live for free. Off of your tax dollars, not theirs. I could easily and without very much thought pack up my belongings yet again and find a home for you to pay for, without thinking twice. I could also stop with the silly war I have waged against institutionalized education at any moment and become a scholar tomorrow, without spending a dime. And someday, I just might. Before they tell me I can’t.
I am in fact, exactly the kind of person I tried so hard to avoid becoming. I lack ambition. I have no goals. And I can not put down this bong to save my life. I live a peaceful, quiet, lonesome life stuck inside my head twenty four hours a day. If I have too much of something, it is time. Too much time to sit around and think about getting old and doing nothing. The truth is I am far from alone.
When I step back to observe my existence and all of my endeavors thus far, I am quick to realize that the only real ambition in my adult life has been to find a man. How incredibly boring is that? I suppose it has the potential to be fun and exciting. I imagine for some the idea alone sets red lace and used rubbers carousing through the veins. Unfortunately for me I am terrible at it. I think it’s because I am not looking for a husband. I am not looking for a family, I rather enjoy my vagina the way it is. I do not seek a picket fence and a two car garage. I have no grand vision of receptions and in-laws; there is no beef or chicken to be circled in this fantasy; let’s save the heavy life choices for something a little more serious, shall we?
What I need more than any man, more than any up against the wall, swollen, moist, and torrid connection, is something to be. The global out cry against big business and a faltering economy has set something stirring inside me. It has ignited my soul. It has set a proverbial fire raging under my long immobile buttocks. I feel from a true and profound place within me that this is the cause I’ve been waiting for. This is my reason to better myself, so that someday I can help to make life better for others; so that one day I may not fear so greatly bringing children of my own in to this world.
I believe however, from where I stand, that I can only be part of the problem. That I need to switch gears, change my focus. I need to direct my attention elsewhere to be part of the solution. No man is going to come along and help me understand myself any better then I already do. No man is going to come and remove me from my parents’ home; no relationship is going to help me make any sense of life. The 1950’s called, they would like their day dreams back now, Ashley.
If only I wasn’t so easily distracted by shiny things. If only I could stop chasing rainbows and slaying imaginary dragons. If only for a second I could look outside of the circus I’ve spent my entire life living.
If only I could get away from the heat, from the blistering solos, from the extra wet and heavy bass notes. If I could just stop gawking at the lights! If I could put down the glitter and stop inhaling fairy dust for just one second, maybe, just maybe I could make a difference. If I could let go of my obsession with increasing odometer digits and decreasing neurological performance maybe I could be something, anything!
Ah, but that life! Being in the divine presence of an eternal expanse of sound, of participating in a spectacle; a grand show; a feast with Dionysus… That life, that life turns me on. That life sets my engines running, screaming! The day to day, city to city makes my insides bubble and froth with excitement. The idea of it alone sets unnatural grins inching across my face even in my darkest moments.
Should I be ashamed of that? Should I cower before a crumbling world? Should I trade in my wings for diplomas? Should I submit to loans and debts and foreclosures? Should I apply for Medicaid? Should I waddle down to the HEAP office every month? Should I exist on Ramen noodles and EZ-Mac for the next 4.5 years working towards something that might not even be necessary by the time I can apply it?
Or should I keep going about life mindlessly, lacking direction but always finding my way home…
Should I just keep on keepin’ on, shamelessly pie eyed, giggling through the shit storm?
I don’t know the answer, as much as you don’t, please believe. All I know for sure is that this is a particularly awesome version of Split Open and Melt and my coffee has already gone cold.
I think we’re off to a pretty good start.
I’m going to change the world in no time at this rate.